In the world of bizarre video games, Desert Bus holds a special distinction as arguably the weirdest video game ever. The game sprang from the minds of magicians Penn Jillette and Teller in 1995 as a way to thumb their noses at politicians eager to censor video games. As a politically motivated game from a pair of experienced entertainers, Desert Bus might entail a riveting adventure or insightful satire of current events. It was neither. In fact, Penn and Teller intentionally designed one of the worst video games of all time.
The story of how Desert Bus was made is exponentially more exciting than the game itself, unless you find driving for hours across a barren stretch of sandy, desert wasteland riveting. Players strap in for an eight-hour journey across the desert, from Tucson, AZ, to Las Vegas, NV. Painfully realistic and dreadfully boring, Desert Bus is a video game asserting non-violence in virtual spaces in the boldest and worst of ways.
The Game Is A Real-Time Driving Route Between Tucson And Las Vegas
Have you ever wondered what it's like to drive along the wide-open stretch of desert road between Tucson, AZ, and Las Vegas, NV? If yes, then Desert Bus is just the thrill-ride for you. The game tasks players with driving in real time across a straight road to Las Vegas during the day, then turning around and heading back to Tucson through the evening and night. The "goal" of Desert Bus is to complete this stretch back and forth as many times as possible, seriously testing even the most experienced gamers' stamina.
It's A Satirical Response To Anti-Video Game Politics
The game serves as political satire directed at politicians critical of video game violence in the 1990s. At the time, lawmakers and cultural critics contended violent video games encouraged children and adults to become more destructive. The magician duo of Penn and Teller privately joked with their TV writer friend about creating an ultra-realistic video game epitomizing what these politicians wanted from video games.
Cruising back and forth between Tucson and Las Vegas included no violence, as well as no excessive... Well, anything at all. It's just driving. Intended as a quirky comeback, Desert Bus instead became one of the most boring video games of all time.
The Game Was Lost To The World For A Decade
Desert Bus was originally a mini-game for Penn and Teller's anthology game Smoke and Mirrors, made for the Sega CD peripheral. Unfortunately, Smoke and Mirrors never received a public release due to Sega CD's poor sales; even the video game journalists who received copies to review more or less forgot it existed.
Ten years later, a review copy from one of the few press copies resurfaced on an obscure video game archive, exposing itself as a real, playable game, not simply a rumored piece of video game lore.
Your Maximum Speed Is 45 MPH
Players can't simply rip across the desert to reduce their travel time. The maximum speed the bus can get up to is a heart-racing 45 mph, forcing players to endure a scenic pace as they slowly move through the sandy expanse. Trailblazers will squirm in their seats even as they reach maximum speed, at which it takes a full eight hours to reach their objective.